Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation is Up and Running
In September 2021, Governor Larry Hogan created the Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and I am honored and pleased to serve as its inaugural executive director.
In this position I will work with DNR, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and other agencies and stakeholders to support and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and the economic benefits they produce throughout the state. This includes implementation of the recommendations of the Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission (MOREC), which the governor established by executive order in 2017. The commission has named dozens of businesses and organizations as Maryland Outdoor Recreation Ambassadors.
With the leadership of Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and Secretary Mike Gill, this is an exciting time to build and grow upon Maryland’s world class outdoor recreation capabilities.
While I am new to this position, I am not new to DNR or the recreation industry. I have served 35 years with DNR, most recently as Assistant Secretary for Land Resources. I joined DNR in 1983 as a park ranger at Patapsco Valley State Park. I filled many positions within the Park Service including regional manager for the southern, central, and western regions until Governor Hogan appointed me as Assistant Secretary in 2015. My family and I regularly enjoy the outdoor recreational opportunities found near my Western Maryland home and all throughout the state.
The new Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation will provide a central point of contact, advocacy, inclusion, and resources at the state level for the diverse constituents, businesses, and communities that rely on and enjoy the continued growth of the outdoor recreation economy. Our office will partner with outdoor recreation leaders throughout the country to serve as a voice for the outdoor industry.
Additional purposes include increasing equitable access to outdoor recreation, assisting outdoor recreation businesses that already exist across the state, working with local leaders to expand outdoor recreation, and increasing revenue streams through outdoor recreation opportunities.
The office will follow five pillars in our work:
- Conservation and stewardship
- Education and workforce development
- Economic development
- Public health and wellness
We know that Maryland already has a great footprint in the recreation industry. In 2019, the outdoor recreation economy in Maryland generated 109,000 direct jobs, $14 billion in consumer spending, $4.4 billion in wages and salaries, and $951 million in state and local tax revenue. Investment in outdoor recreation and nature and heritage tourism economies supports many outdoor activities in Maryland, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling, overlanding, boating, fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, wildlife-viewing, and visiting historic sites. Maryland has long been known as “America in Miniature” for its diverse terrain that affords these opportunities and more.
Because of this potential, there is much room to grow. The outdoor recreation industry is of growing economic importance in both urban and rural communities. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported that, nationally, outdoor recreation makes up 2.2% of U.S. GDP, generating $778 billion in gross output and supporting 5.2 million jobs.
Together with partners throughout Maryland we will work to multiply our outdoor opportunities, grow and diversify our pool of outdoor recreation workforce experts; and expand efforts to attract recreational activities, supporting businesses and manufacturers.
I welcome input from everyone passion-ate about Maryland’s outdoors. Anyone interested to learn more or contact our office should visit dnr.maryland.gov/pages/orc.
J. Daryl Anthony is Executive Director of the Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation. Article appears in Vol. 25, No. 1 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine.